Musicians, Protect Your Ears
It was last summer — June of 2022 — when I first heard the high-pitched ringing.
I was lying in bed, trying to sleep. I’d spent about half an hour reading a book to chill myself out, and I could feel myself drifting off, when I realized: Huh. Where’s that sound coming from?
It was a soft, high-up whine. I wondered for a second if it were some malfunction in a nearby fan or air conditioner, or even a car on the Brooklyn street outside.
But nope: The call was coming from inside the house. I pretty quickly realized it was the internal squeal of tinnitus — one’s ear generating noise that only you can hear.
At first, I shrugged, figuring it was one of those temporary noises that can suddenly arise in one’s ears, seemingly unprovoked, and which quickly subsides.
But this one didn’t go away. As I lay there, it kept on whining, like a synthesizer stuck on a single note. I eventually fell asleep, figuring whatever was wrong with my ear would fix itself overnight.
It didn’t. In the morning the high-pitched whine was still there, and I was figuring that I had probably given myself a case of tinnitus.
Alas, there was no great mystery as to how this had happened.
Professionally, I’m a journalist. On the side, though, I’ve been playing in bands ever since I was 17. There was the high-school 80s pop band; several college-era hard-rock cover bands to make extra dough; a lot of busking on the streets of Toronto; countless gigs as a harmonica player for blues bands; then an album and a half with a folk-rock outfit, and two with the Delorean Sisters, a country/bluegrass band I’ve played in for the last twelve years.
In March of 2020, the Delorean Sisters were getting ready for a slate of spring gigs and summer tour for our second album, when COVID hit. It mothballed all those plans; our regular rehearsals ground to a halt.
After vaccinations came along, though, I resumed weekly songwriting sessions with Betty Wiles, my songwriting partner in the Delorean Sisters.